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NASA aiming for test flight of giant moon rocket in late August

People take photos as NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is rolled out for the first time, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, March 17, 2022. (Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via AP)
People take photos as NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is rolled out for the first time, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, March 17, 2022. (Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via AP)

On the 53rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, NASA announces that it’s shooting for a late August launch of its giant, new moon rocket.

NASA will attempt the more than month-long lunar test flight with three mannequins, but no astronauts, as early as Aug. 29. There are also two launch dates in early September, before NASA would have to stand down for two weeks.

NASA’s Jim Free notes the test flight begins “our Artemis program to go back to the moon.” The space agency’s new lunar program is named Artemis after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology.

The 30-story Space Launch System rocket and attached Orion capsule are currently in the hangar at Kennedy Space Center, following repairs stemming from last month’s countdown test. Fuel leaks and other technical trouble cropped up during NASA’s repeated launch rehearsals at the pad.

NASA officials assure reporters that the problems have been resolved and that testing is almost complete. But they caution that the launch dates could slip, depending on the volatile Florida weather and issues that might arise before the rocket is supposed to return to the pad on Aug. 18.

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